History Class

Budding Guru

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Bartender or Whore?

“What’s the difference between a bartender and a whore?”

We come in all shapes and disguises.

We come in all shapes and disguises. This is “covert”.

Apparently not much.

Lets talk about decency, and the lack thereof, one deals with in the hospitality industry. I was looking back at my writing this past year, and one episode stood out that missed publishing. The audacious depths of depravity involved in that night still set my nerves on end. This is the story of why I left the restaurant business.

I was working at the Pub that night, and had a rowdy group of 40 something’s. From the off, we had a stellar repertoire; very playful and assertive. I liked it. I had the women flirting and complimenting me and the men puffing up all flattering and grandiose. But towards the end, one of those charmers didn’t just cross a line– he charged it. He stormed the goddamn castle, sowing salt behind him.

After a night of excellent service for well over four hours and particular attention to my many attributes– both physical and intellectual– I was finally being cut (translation: let off work for the night) and cashing everyone out. While working on that, the big, belligerent bull of a lug went for the gold.

“So what’s the difference between a whore and a bartender?” he drunk-whispered as he leaned over me, more than invading my personal space.

Thinking he was starting a tasteless joke, I half laughed while spacing myself back to a polite distance. “I don’t know, what?”

“No, seriously, where is the line drawn? Because I want you to make out with this guy behind us. I wanna fuck his sister, but he’s looking all pathetic and needs a girl. She won’t do anything until he’s good. So you hook up with him and I get his sister.”

Just stop.

You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me. The aforementioned Sad Man was indeed looking like a half-drowned puppy swaying on a bar stool. His sister, well past drunk, was my biggest fan in the bunch. While I had a growing suspicion through our time together of an impending threesome proposition– which I typically find flattering or hilarious– this was unexpected.

“That’s not going to happen; here’s your check.” That didn’t satisfy him.

“No seriously, he’s not bad looking. If you’re a little drunk and like nice guys.” His suggestive leer did nothing to improve the ice running through my veins as his determination to disregard personal space actually cornered me.

“I’m sober, and have a boyfriend. No, thank you. Here’s your check.” He really can’t push this any further; there’s no way I’ll have to decline more than twice, right? 

It gets better.

“I don’t fucking care about you having a boyfriend or any of that, just do it. He won’t know. I really need to get with this guy’s sister. You’re my last shot,” the Lug said, dangerously unaware of the precarious situation in which he’d placed himself.

Know the fear.

Know the fear.

I silently handed him his bill, doled out the rest of the checks, and walked to the safety of the kitchen. Quickly. Before the explosive, homicidal rage overcame my desire to evade prison.

I’ve had nights involving sexual harassment many-a-time before; it comes with the territory, as a woman in service. But I generally squash those attempts and shame the perpetrators. Tonight was different: he hadn’t paid me yet. I had rendered services–apparently extensive services, given recent absurdities– and I deserved my pay.

Hold the phone.

How was I any different from a prostitute now? We both perform requested actions and are paid wages on a discretionary, performance-based scale. Now that I think of it, don’t they have a set, pimp-enforced price, rather than hoping to be paid what they deserved? So, in a way–and take this with a biting grain of salt–they are theoretically better-off. (Ok, that’s a thought that is going to fester.)

Well, I hadn’t received my due yet. So I punched a sack of potatoes in the walk-in fridge (to my immediate regret), and steeled myself for round two. I shamefully laughed it off, navigating the group until I got the receipts back. What’s the saying, fool me once? Yep, shame on me.

He tipped me under 10%. In this line of work, in this country, and considering my practiced expertise, this is wholly unacceptable. Especially considering the time I put into them and the horrible trash he’d dragged me through.

The sole redeeming moment: the evident look on my face upon reading his receipt did not go unnoticed. His buddy came over to ask if I had been appropriately taken care of. Out of sheer exhaustion and dejection, I shook my head and squeaked out a quiet, “Well, not exactly, no.”

He took the slips back and asked for my help doing math; the woman supposedly won over by the Lug joined in. Look– I’m no walking calculator myself, so when drunks request assistance in paying me properly, I’ll always be more than happy to help. He said the one sister meant to put 20%, and bumped his own check to 30%. Between the whole lot of them, I think I ended up walking with over $150, for a total of $350 for the night.

I can put up with a ridiculous mountain of shenanigans from customers (and coworkers), but I refuse to provide my industry prowess in an atmosphere where I don’t feel safe. The managers and doormen were appalled that I hadn’t immediately grabbed them, to their credit. And while I might have done so in the past, I had reached a point in life where I won’t work somewhere that allows room for this to slip by unawares. Most other women working there were shocked; they said they had never experienced anything remotely close. However, one of my favorite coworkers was the only one to speak up that she wasn’t surprised, and had been in the same boat many times over the years.

Even so, that was the night that broke this camel’s back; I put in my notice a week later. If I make $350 in one night and am still showing up at home in tears, I’m calling it. As much as I miss making rent in one weekend, the emotional damage really isn’t worth it. I left the industry in favor of committing to a real-world professional (read: office) career move. If I’m going to “whore” myself out– because let’s be honest, a lot of jobs feel like that sometimes– it’s going to meet my standards.

I’m going to be a happy whore.

jawsomeBonus story time!

In a jam for money this fall, I tried rejoining the serving masses at a well-known tapas spot in the U Street area. The hiring manager had boasted two visits from Michelle Obama in as many months, so I looked forward to finally bragging about rubbing elbows with the upper crust to Big Bro up in Philly, where he routinely serves the fabulous and famous. I didn’t have to wait long.

On my third day of training (already convinced I’d made a great mistake, and was planning a graceful exit), the hostess informed my trainer and I that a VIP was assigned to our section for dinner. She didn’t know who it was, but told me “Valerie something” when I asked after the reservation.

“You mean Valerie Jarrett?” She nodded, looking no more enlightened. Everyone else is still oblivious. “Valerie Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to the President.” Still nothing. “She’s Obama’s best friend.” A few faces lit up. I instead talked to a manager, who absolutely knew the name.

When a Secret Service agent showed to post up at a table nearby, I kept thinking about how advisors don’t typically go about with escorts. Two young black girls arrived at the table first, but I assumed one was her daughter. It still could just be her. Then my trainer bolted over to me across a packed dining room.

“Please don’t freak out. I know you’re new, and I don’t know if you can keep your cool or not. But Sasha and Malia just sat at our table. Get bread and water and please, please do not embarrass me.”

For a group who didn’t know Valerie Jarrett’s name, they sure make a fuss over the First Daughters. I had to subtly shoo away multiple coworkers who stopped and gaped at the table. One server even nudged me while I was refilling a water glass and not-so-quietly whispered, “Are those the Obama girls?” My face was not pleased. Jarrett did indeed accompany the girls, along with some school friends. My only moment of nervousness was when the girls thought about ordering another soda from me along with their churros, which put me on edge.

I’m sorry, girls, but I wouldn’t want to face your mother’s disapproval. I sort of worship her. You understand.

Luck of the Irish

"Jules' Ancestral Portrait" circa: who knows, we were illiterate

“Jules’ Ancestral Portrait”
circa: who knows, we were illiterate

The few times in my life someone has mistakenly quoted the ‘when you least expect it’ cliche, it has typically ended in heart-arresting glares or a smack upside the head. [If you say something stupid, I will punish you.]

Unfortunately, this spring had a twisted sense of humor for many in the District. The past few months saw friends falling in love with friends, roommates fooling around, coworkers getting complicated [officially called the Taboo Trifecta, f.y.i.]– it’s the Capital of Confusion around here. And I’m no exception.

Here’s the deal about the whole ‘Luck of the Irish’ bit: it’s ironic, in the true sense of the word. Much like the “blood vs. water” debate from awhile back, it is an abused saying. It actually refers to bad luck. [Like the fact that I need to replace a dying laptop, right in time to take money away from my Birthday Fun Fund!] Fact: nothing good happens to the Irish– and if it does, we didn’t deserve it. Or it’s some twisted version where the good and bad distort into something that only the Irish would consider luck. Example: when I was 20 and a senior in college, I was beaten pretty badly in a gang fight. Long story short, Big Bro, my boyfriend at the time, and I were jumped by 15+ kids on the street in front of my off-campus house. It was legally determined a riot. I ended in the gutter nearly curb-stomped. It was horrific, but we survived; I credit this more to my brother and ex than anything.

Fuckin' love lemonade.

Fuckin’ love lemonade.

When I finally took a shaky trip back to the house a few days later, I found a four-leaf clover. It was in the exact spot my brother tackled off of me the three guys about to kick my face into the curb and likely kill me. Now, that four-leaf clover rides in my wallet everywhere I go. Some people would say good luck would have been never being in the riot in the first place… but the way I was raised, it was a fair bit of good luck to have survived. And to have big, protective Irish guys around. [Notefour-leaf clovers are not called shamrocks. Shamrocks have three leaves, for the Holy Trinity, and represent Ireland; four-leaf clovers are rare, and considered good luck; five-leaf clovers are witchcraft and considered a sign you’re going to hell. So get it straight and stop calling 4-leaves shamrocks, or the devil will take you.]

Mid-March, this melting pot nation loves to paint itself green for a day to reap the benefits of what they think is the luck of the Irish. You want my emerald-tinted birthright on March 17th? At least know the mess you’re getting into. I told you I punish stupidity: your post-St-Paddy’s- hangover is payment for claiming my background, when you genetically cannot handle it. I bleed whiskey, so stick with your tonic and gin. My sadistic hope is that anyone claiming a heritage not their own– especially when it is rightfully mine– will next be met with a seriously unfortunate series of events. Because THAT is the true luck of the Irish.

Seriously, though... tip your bartenders/servers.

Seriously, though… tip your bartenders/servers.

Another factor of Irish luck is when you finally DO get something good, it’s when you don’t look for/want it. Much like the “when you least expect it” bullshit, only a serious pain in my ungrateful ass. Enter: my role in this bizarre Capital of Confusion. My typical DC life has followed a consistent pattern. I date, I experience, I write. Sometimes, I want more. But it’s summertime! Summer is for adventuring and new people! So it figures that, of all moments, this is the time only one person has managed to capture my attention. [And with my Relationship Attention Deficit Disorder, that’s no mean feat. Maybe he’s my RADD-erall?] And it definitely bites into my writing/ painting/ creative activity time.

Everything about it is unexpected. The timing, the meeting– him. Just as I’m gearing up for summer in the city, my favorite time to date. And one of the Taboo Trifecta, to boot! [Taboo Trifecta: friends, roommates, coworkers.] When it first started, I assumed it was a one-time thing, much like the majority of my liaisons. But then it happened the next night. Sparks took fire. And four times over the next week. And then five days in a row.

Now, it’s well over a month later. This fascinating Irish boy quickly blew right through my Two-Week-Expiration-Date deadline. [I have mentioned my dating style has the attention span of a goldfish, yes?] People learned of it the first few weeks, and we’ve met each other’s friends.  I hadn’t even realized it until we were at the bar with another coworker talking about dating/sex/et al. I mentioned that I typically get bored with guys after two weeks, and Smartass Coworker chimed in, “Hey, hasn’t it been over three for you guys?”

Pretty sure this is what my fairy godmother would look like.

Pretty sure this is what my fairy godmother would look like.

Realization, meet Dawn.

So I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I wasn’t even looking for a date at that point. I just wanted to go out and have fun with friends for awhile, since I’d been working so hard at the Bar [and still am, to explain the long gaps in posts]. But does my leprechaun godmother give a shit about what I want? NO. She knows what’s good for me, my thoughts be damned.

Which is why my claddagh is turned in. Because, want it or not, this Mick has stubbornly stolen my heart.

Sex With Friends

Games are fun...

Games are fun…

There’s something uniquely reassuring in the comfort of Sex With Friends [trademark pending?].

There is a different sort of intimacy that comes out of camaraderie. You know each other in ways distinct from someone you’re dating or romantically interested in. There is less rose-tinted idealizing. I might admire a friend, but I don’t put them on a pedestal. So in a way, it’s a much more honest relationship. And with that honesty comes a clarity of experience that is exclusive to Sex With Friends.

But maybe it’s just me.

I'd say this is far more convoluted.

I’d say this is far more convoluted.

Reactions to the topic have been stupid funny. Even if inexperienced in platonic explorations of sex, everyone has an opinion. [It’s one of the few things you can knock without trying, if it’s to admit that you wouldn’t be able to handle it. But please hold the judgement of others.] One friend says it would make her feel too self-concious around them after. No matter how solid the friendship, going out with the group later would be a new level of uncomfortable. Her mind wouldn’t be able to get past the “I’ve seen you naked, and you did things to me.”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely happened to me. [And my mind never stops thinking about it, giggling in some dark corner of itself.] I have had more than my share of awkward social gatherings. I would hook-up with a friend and have to pretend like nothing had happened the next day. Blushes occur, and eye contact may weigh loaded and infrequent. The thing about Sex With Friends is that it isn’t dating. You’re just friends. And friends accept each new experience as they come.

It’s up to each pair whether they’re open to others knowing about their bedroom [out-of-bedroom?] activities, or not. Everyone’s unique. I’ve had deals where one group of friends were rather incestuous and no one minded. It was a specific situation in our grouplife, and we were all aware of what was happening. Then there have been times when a friend and I would hang out normally, and more-than-friendly things happened. As far as the world was concerned, we just watched TV like we did every Thursday; only we knew. Some friends don’t care if others know, and some want others to mind their own fucking business.

uBcyzCollege sees the worst sides of Sex With Friends. Adina puts it well: “It’s fun, but it’s dangerous.” Our Hook-Up Generation has a particularly terrible aspect: it conditions us to treat sex with an overly casual attitude. It can range from simply dismissive to surprisingly disrespectful, and young adults can be too underdeveloped to handle the fallout. I personally reached a point where thoughtless gossip and crass attitudes became too much, and pulled back from it all. It was emotionally damaging, because the snide comments and judgemental jokes didn’t come from random strangers or social enemies– they were spoken by friends. And during such a fragile developmental period of life as college, when you’re still learning what life is and how to deal with it, these incidents can be particularly harmful.

Such circumstances arise when people treat Sex With Friends without sensitivity. Just because the relationship lacks romance, doesn’t mean it lacks emotion. Sex is a profoundly intimate act, and should be treated with respect. You are engaging in one of life’s most penetrating experiences; anyone claiming to have sex without emotion is dead inside. [Seriously: a sociopath or zombie, but needing therapy either way.] Even if the emotion is as light-hearted as dopamine-fueled happiness or oxytocin-powered trust– the reactions are there and biologically proven. So I hold issue with people who say friends-with-benefits means sex without emotion. If it’s without emotion, it’s just fuck buddies. [See full definitions here.] Sex With Friends definitely has emotion– they’re just not romantic ones. They’re platonic, they’re sexual, they’re genuine affection. I can appreciate a friend’s sexuality, attractiveness, and fun without being starry-eyed. And I can definitely appreciate that special trick they do without wanting to be their girlfriend.

images

“It’s a good idea, until it’s not.”

Then there is the situation where one of the two grow more than platonic feelings, and everything goes to shit. Someone forgets that it isn’t dating. They start to take the little compliments as an intent to woo, when it’s really just a friend telling you your eyes are pretty, or they like how you do that one thing with your mouth. Suddenly the little moments become charged, and eggshells are required for walking. I recommend cutting it off immediately. Talking is necessary to make sure the air is cleared between the two of you, or you’ll never return to the friendship you had before. Note: the friendship will never be like before. Be real, you’ve done dirty things together. But it can go back to something good, if you’re up front and honest.

This is the crucial moment where most pairs fuck it up and ruin what they once had. If you are unable to talk about difficult emotions/sexual issues and don’t want to lose a friend, please never engage in Sex With Friends in the first place. Because you will fuck it up. And you will never stop regretting being such a royal fuckup. In your defense, most people are just like you. Not many are evolved or open-minded enough. So don’t even go there; you can’t handle it. Just keep it in your pants and fantasies, where it belongs.

I maintain the benefits of Sex With Friends. As a more experienced adult, I can maturely decide on the potential for fun or fallout. Unlike college, I am now much more proficient. Since joining the real world, I’ve played the game a number of times, and had plenty of fun winning. Mostly chosen for pure enjoyment, once for the solace of distraction, I discerned the value of each worthwhile. They were fun while we played, each ended amicably, and they are still in my life as good friends.

And in a city where we are all racing about our hectic professions and lives with rarely a minute to spare for groceries or the gym, let alone the effort and mess of dating… Well, enhancing your aptitude for Sex With Friends can easily make your life that much more fulfilled. If you can handle it.

The Resilience of the Fragile

Recent addition to the John Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic

Recent addition to the John Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic

A friend asked me last week if I was afraid of going downtown, on the metro, or being in DC in general right now. I was confused for a second, before I realized we had been talking about Boston a few minutes before.

There are few moments when I can be rendered speechless. It’s a writer’s nature to put the overwhelming into words, whether  of love or horror, but even we can be caught up with the moment. The past two weeks has one of them. There were no words, only a storm of memories and emotion. Before 9/11, my first of such moments were beautiful. Holding my baby sister for the first time. My first kiss. Surprise birthday parties. The little things that are both common and profound to the young. They teach us so much about how to exult in experience. We learn wonder, awe, and the magic of life.

Honest, brutal, empathetic perspective. -Syria

Honest, brutal, empathetic perspective.

Some of us experience the flipside earlier than others. 9/11 was my first, as a preteen able to comprehend the utter horror. Hyper-aware and intelligent, it rocked my world as I watched my parents crumble along with the news’ footage of the towers. While adults held their children close, we learned the fragility of our world. Our buildings crash down. Villains are real. And our parents and presidents aren’t invincible. But they can be superheros, after a fashion. Living smack dab between NYC and DC, we all knew people. NYPD and fire-fighters. My best friend’s aunt worked at the Pentagon. My godmother lived in Manhattan. My parents worried about the impact such horror would have on their kids, but adults got the worst of it. They’re the ones with a rocked sense of safety. One of my strongest memories from 2001 was an overwhelming feeling of family. When the worst happens, that love is what saves us. And families will always remember.

I was in high school when Katrina hit. Every school sport, club, and team exploded with various fundraisers. Again, humanity’s great family rallied together to grieve and heal. I have yet to visit New Orleans, but the greatest repeated admiration of the endlessly hurricane-battered city is for the defiantly vibrant statement they make. Weather won’t ever change their joie de vivre.

From Big Bro and Family

From Big Bro and Family

A few years later, my cell phone rang during a French lecture. It was my mom. Another ring; another “je suis très désolé”. My phone continued to vibrate. An apologetic “c’est ma mère” got me into the hallway. She choked out to come home. Refusing to tell me details via phone, something had happened. My professor should cancel class, the university would be shutting down. I was too young to remember Columbine as more than a whispered story, but Virginia Tech threatened my own blood. I never was more grateful for having gone to college in my hometown more than that day, spent clutching my mother in front of the TV, waiting for my brother to finally call in that he was safe. Big Bro and a whole pile of friends are Hokies, and thankfully all survived. I wore maroon and orange with a sibling’s pride to my campus vigil. We are Virginia Tech, and we are strong.

I have experienced great tragedy in my life. From a young age, into adulthood. From something as personal as a friend lost to cancer, leaving me feeling like the whole world has changed… well, to the whole world actually changing after terrorist attacks. I have seen friends off to war to be shot, and friends have been shot in the ignored warfare waged on our own streets here. Each time, the flurry of phone calls to see who could have been watching Batman in Aurora, or might be homeless after Sandy, are made. Each time, news– both good and bad– trickles through jammed cell towers. I hold a great number of runners and Bostonians in my heart; this time, my loves are all safe.

The only time [hopefully] that the Yankees will ever admit their love.

The only time [hopefully] that the Yankees will ever admit their love.

There isn’t much I can say about Boston that hasn’t already been said by the more prominent. President Obama’s speech caught my breath, with the quote about Boston being a state of grace. My favorite laugh came from a spoof-Happy Gilmore twitter, “Boston is probably the only major city that if you fuck with them, they will shut down the whole city…stop everything.. and find you.” And Stephen Colbert made me cry. “These maniacs might have tried to make life bad for the people of Boston, but all they can ever do is show just how good those people are.”

From DC, with love. The Run for Boston, 4/23/13

From DC, with love. The Run for Boston, 4/23/13

Because it’s true. When the evil fight to bring us down, the only thing good people can do is continue our lives in strength and grace. I would be lying if I said I have never flicked away a grain of fear for living in the US capital. I am far too informed to ignore the target this city makes to a mess of bad people. DC is undoubtedly an iconoclasm magnet. But that won’t keep us away from the places we love. We get back on to the Metro. We return to the Washington Monument. We continue life. This week, a group of runners organized a Run for Boston. I couldn’t attend, but a fellow blogger did a great write-up: thanks for running and writing, Dana. Great cities will always attract envy. Like our sister, Boston, Washington has a heaping of love, pride, and good people. What they, and the rest of the world’s response, embody is an undeniable human power. Threats only serve to strengthen our resolve. Our fragility isn’t a weakness, but a treasure. It makes us resilient. And there is nothing as inspiring, nothing to remind us of our original awe and wonder at the magic in life, as this resilience of the fragile.

And like all good people, we will hunt you down. So don’t fuck with us.

Boston strong.

Three Blushes Make a Crush

Sweater unnecessary-- I will turn that red on my own.

Sweater unnecessary– I will turn that red on my own.

One blush means I’m amused (or have done something stupid). Two blushes = definitely interested. Three blushes, and the deal is sealed.

I have a crush.

Once upon a time… fate, genetics, and a healthy sense of humor got together one night and created my complexion.

We’re talking seriously pale here, folks. To the point of multiple childhood nicknames and countless burns. (I once got a sunburn sitting on a cafe patio by the time I finished lunch. [Okay, it’s happened more than once.]) So the general exertion of walking from A to B, thinking hard, or even the general frustration of where I left my phone– they visibly show. I wear my heart on my skin tone.

Sometimes, I’m like reading a book. I can play a mean game of RISK, and a decent hand of poker… but certain emotions are easy to tell. Denying a crush would be like me calling a ream of paper white; the pot and kettle have nothing on me. So, color me intrigued– literally.

An honest to God, old school, makes-me-blush crush.

We run in the same group of friends, so I can’t tell you who it is. But I can tell you what he’s like.

He’s tall [no surprise], strong [makes me shiver], and goofy as hell [is there any other type I like?]. He’s the kind of guy every girl sits up a little straighter for when he enters a room, but doesn’t notice. He simply knows who he is, and puts it out there in a confident, natural way. Such a straightforward personality is refreshing in a city of professional ladder climbers and social manipulators. The world zeros in when he’s around, to the point where I’m more aware of his proximity to me than whatever I’m actively doing. The rest of life is just on auto-pilot. I’m not just saying he’s attractive; he’s actually beautiful. A lean build, great smile when I tease him, and perfect eye contact. The kind you can’t look away from; as if you would even want to. [Like in oncoming traffic? Doubtful.] I can be quite the cool cucumber, but he’s tripped me up more than once into being damn flustered. And I don’t get flustered.

This drink order says to me: "I have taste, pride, and roots"... Can I join?

What this drink order says to me:
“I have taste, pride, and roots”
…Hey there, can I join?

He’s not the only one I’m sweet on, though.

I pick up crushes like baseball cards. Like this one, most don’t amount to anything more than simple appreciation. I like picking up on something that fascinates me about a person and admiring it. That’s the beauty of crushes. And any little thing can kick start it. A common one lately seems to be a cute guy sitting at My Bar ordering a great beer and shot of Jameson. That one gets me every time– there is something admirably simple about ordering the working-man’s boilermaker that pulls me. Especially when followed by great, easy conversation with an attractive smartass. (I’ve said it before: you DC kids really need to step it up and put yourselves on the line more. Hint: a free drink means the bartender is interested.) This week definitely introduced a new rockstar crush of the boilermaker variety. He only got me to blush twice; we’ll see if he returns as promised to earn the third.

But more than the tripwire that spins me into infatuation are the qualities that keep me there. A quick mind and clever tongue. Culture and curiosity. A sweet nature and spontaneity. Impulsive ideas and the confidence to see them through. Assertive smartasses really steal my heart; no wonder I moved to DC. Right now, I want someone who actually thinks, recognizes their impact on others, and puts it to good use. I’m a heart-on-the-sleeve kind of girl.

I put serious effort into making other people smile with random stunts or little gestures on a daily basis; I like to think there are kindred spirits out there. I even see small moments like someone offering their metro seat, or running after an elderly man to return his dropped glove [happened in front of My Bar Saturday afternoon]. Today, I watched a businessman– fresh off the train with a suitcase and the distinctly-DC running-late look– stop to give a homeless guy two $20’s and tell him things will look up eventually. Heart = warmed. But apparently my personal karma is playing it a bit sadistically these days. Life’s been throwing a number of sharp hardballs my way, and I’ve have a rough time of it. Nothing terrible, just consistently difficult. So I thoroughly enjoy fun times when they come, and safe-keep the sweet moments in my pocket for later.

You owe me a few random acts of happiness, Karma

You owe me a few random acts of happiness, Karma

That translates into when a sweet friend-crush interrupts me to say I have beautiful eyes, or a cute bar patron says I’m trouble and will have to visit again next week….. well, those are the butterflies I keep to make me smile again later. I take these little moments to heart– so don’t break them.

Everyone needs a little more love in their lives. I’m not just talking about candy hearts and teddy bears (though I won’t reject the classics). I mean acknowledging the homeless person you breeze past every day outside Farragut North, or the Metro Express lady in Columbia Heights (who is a real sweet woman). How about helping the mother off the bus with her toddlers and stroller, or giving the elderly a hand. And yes, maybe even bringing a flower to that cute someone who comes to mind, or asking them for a drink. Happiness and romance don’t have to be grand gestures at the Empire State Building or airport terminals. They also don’t have to have some weighted end-game of commitment or marriage. They can be little things. Like just saying, “Hi, I think you’re cool– want to go for a walk?”

So here is my challenge to the City of Politics and Pride: how about you try making a random gesture to brighten someone ELSE’S day, with no goal in mind beyond making someone smile. If you want to share it with the world, tell me about it and I’d love to have a follow-up article of stories. If you want to make it selfless and keep it to yourself, more power to you. But just try it– it’ll make this week more bearable for everyone involved. I promise, warm fuzzies are contagious.

And since I will be working Thursday night: Happy Valentine’s Day, world. This gem is thanks to an NYU Improv friend:

How to Ba-Rock the Body Republic

Goddamn, I love them. SO. MUCH.

Goddamn, I love them.
SO. MUCH.

Happy MLK-Obama Day!

Ooooh, I’m excited enough to burst. Two of my favoritest people in the world are renewing their vows this weekend, and I couldn’t be happier! Barry and Joe have been together for four years, and what a whirlwind their relationship has stirred. They’ve had their ups and downs, but in the end, the struggles made their bond stronger. And as a girl with starry eyes for Biden [literally] since birth, it makes me proud to see him with a worthy partner. In addition to Jill, of course.

Everyone knows you never forget your first time, and this is mine. Though the last time around was my first chance to vote [and what a vote!], I was still at university and couldn’t come down for the celebration. [I heard it was cold, did any of you die?] So I’m not missing my second chance!

Which means it’s going to be a long weekend. The housemates all have friends in town, so the Clubhouse will be at full capacity. Jules Junior, Fabala, and Abigail are trekking down from the Motherland for the occasion. And it’s Fabala’s birthday to boot! Friday, I will be working. But only because my friend’s band, Jonny Grave and the Tombstones, will be playing and I adore them. Saturday morning, the Brunch Bartender Extraordinaire will be serving hangover cures and love until five, and then switching over to serve a few more hours. Then I’ll be off for the event I’m excited for…

Ballin.

Ballin.

SATURDAY NIGHT: The Shitkicker’s Ball So. Stoked. I love the Looking Glass Lounge any day of the week, but this is a whole new experience. Want to join? I’m not even going to paraphrase the description.

From the big man behind it all, “Shitkicking is about starting dance parties where even the fucking dudes who wear tucked in shirts and try to hit on women using their LinkedIn accounts wind up breaking out the funky chicken; and when everybody shares not just phone numbers, but sacred family recipes from the old country for drunk food… Shitkicking is about standing up for the people that nobody gives a fuck about in this town. It’s about staying in the kitchen because you love the goddamn heat. As Omar put it in the Wire “How you expect to run with the wolves come night when you spend all day sparring with the puppies?”

Now THAT is my version of an Inaugural Ball! I’d wonder what to wear, but they are pretty explicit.

Think my Ma will be able to see me on TV?

Think my Ma will be able to see me on TV?

For the rest of the weekend, the Clubhouse will be an explosion of madness. Literally and figuratively. I’m taking advantage of all the people, and will be cooking on Sunday. So many things to celebrate! Barry and Joe’s vow renewal, my sister’s birthday, MLK’s memory, surviving the Mayan Apocalypse, being awesome people in general… You know how much I love celebrations. Specialty cocktails will be made. Food will be consumed. Bonfires, firecrackers, and sparklers will ABSOLUTELY be involved. And all done in time to wake up at the crack-of-death 5 a.m., in time to catch the metro and beat some of the crowd for space near speakers on the Mall. What are the chances Park Police would confiscate thermoses? Because I’d survive much happier with a lot more Irish than coffee in my system…

INAUGURATION: [better details]

5 a.m. Wake up, throw coffee in our faces, and race to the metro. Time subject to change.

11:30 Vow renewal, on the steps of Our Nation’s Capitol. From a view of a million feet, back in the nosebleed section. Likely will be hugging a jumbotron for warmth somewhere back near the Washington Monument. Did anyone else see that Kelly Clarkson is singing? Lame.

2:30 Ba-Rocking Parade! Unsure of my attendance. Might physically require sustenance by this point, and belligerently demand alcohol. Return to Columbia Heights imminent.

MONDAY NIGHT: TBD. So many options, so little of me to go around. Did you know that, for the mere price of a quarter of my rent, you could go to an official Inaugural Ball? Yea, that’s one of the reasons why these might be better. [For a full list of all bars open until 4am on Inauguration, check out my friend at Guest of a Guest.] Madam’s, R&R Hotel, El Centro, and more will be Ba-rocking the body republic all night, and I plan on fulfilling my civic duty.

Where will you be celebrating this grand weekend?

Late– for a Very Important Date!

Hint: never leave a girl waiting at the bar.

Hint: never leave a girl waiting at the bar.

Or at least it could have been.

Waiting for a date at Jack Rose, I learned more about Notre Dame basketball than I care to remember (my F’in Irish friends would be so proud). By the time he arrived, I had already turned one attractive guy down and had been chatted up by the charismatic bartender for a solid fifteen minutes.

Here’s the thing about being late: it’s not just what it says about your priorities on meeting me. It’s not just my time you waste. It’s about the interest you lose to the hotter, more ambitious men at the bar who are not only approaching me– they’re present. Too bad this kid struck out before he even arrived.

I swear, I gave him a chance. He was as tall as advertised. Definitely as smart. But just not as cute, and his lack of punctuality cost him. Time is money, no? This is why, when I give advice to guy friends, I tell them to get there early. That way, they don’t leave opportunity for this to occur. And bonus: they have time to down a Scotch to calm any nerves. [Or just to enjoy in solitude.] Honestly, that’s why I don’t mind arriving first. Just sucks for the guy when the unfortunate happens…

He shoots! He misses...

He shoots! He misses…

The dating collateral lost by running late creates a sub- or fully-conscious predisposition to judge any further dealings with you at that level. Before you even take your seat, I’ve seen cute guys. I’ve been hit on by cute guys. And now, I expect you to match or improve on my night so far. No matter how cute some of you are, these memories will remain. If, at the beginning, I think, “this bartender is hot”– at the end, I will still think, “this bartender is hot”. With the addition of “and my date is not”.

Sorry, but the truth’s a bitch. If he had shown up on time, I wouldn’t have had attractive experiences to get me all charged up for disappointment. I still wouldn’t have been attracted enough for a second date either way [probably not]. But it might’ve been a more successful date [maybe]. He at least might have had the chance to ask to meet up again [unlikely]. Instead, we had interesting conversation while I internally had to block myself from scoping out the bartender too often.

The night would've gone so differently if the bartender had been wearing that awful turtleneck...

The night would’ve gone so differently if the bartender had been wearing that awful turtleneck…

So while you’re banging you head against the metro door, cursing yourself for running late [or just not giving a shit, because you’re an asshole], just remember this: all those thoughts of the girl you’re meeting being stolen by some charming stranger at the bar? It isn’t paranoia. It’s actually happening.

Because while my date was struggling with the Red Line, I had a bourbon bought by the bartender who then introduced himself, asked again where I mentioned I work, and talked about returning the favor by coming to visit my bar sometime.

Guess who had my number in their pocket by the end of the night.

Return of the Jedi

You know how Star Wars started off brilliantly, sucked for a bit in the Empire Strikes Back, and then nailed it again in the final film? Because that’s been my past few months.

Wait– you’re not a 40 year old nerd-virgin [nerdgin?] reading this at 4 a.m. in your parent’s basement between Halo games? My bad; I’ll explain.

Fuck. King. Adorable.

So Star Wars is hands down one of the greatest stories of all time. [Just accept this as fact and continue.] I’m not talking about those new-fangled crap ones with Hayden Christiansen and CGI with speech impediments, which are not recognized in my world. I mean the original three. I grew up fighting with my siblings over whether to watch the one where the guys have to slice open and climb inside an unlucky animal in order to survive arctic weather, or to watch the one with those fucking adorable ewoks.

Y’know which one typically won out? The one with fucking adorable ewoks. Because Return of the Jedi is the best of the trilogy, and Empire Strikes back is just a heap of daddy issues and really weird incestuous undertones. Can’t beat ewoks.

So my past year’s been stellar. It had it’s ups and downs, sure, but it’s overall been pretty on par with A New Hope [the lesser-known but actual title of the first Star Wars film]:

Pretty sure this scene is actually a DC documentary; see end of article

1: I moved away from my childhood home [which was considerably cooler than Luke’s, despite our lack of robots].

2: I’ve met a bunch of charismatic, attractive new friends who are equal parts totally awesome and complete trouble: check.

3: I’ve even hung out in bars with aliens to drink questionable cocktails and listen to funky jazz. Done and done.

Conclusion: I am Luke Skywalker.

Which brings me to the Empire Strikes Back– the second movie, and my past few months.

I switched restaurants to one in my actual neighborhood, with the added bonus of live music three nights a week. The food is great, drinks even better, and staff rocks my socks. My coworkers are a great [yes, and dysfunctional] family. I’ve mostly worked five or six shifts a week, have added ‘Bartender’ to my growing list of titles, and remembered just how much I genuinely enjoy serving. [Much better than hosting.] It’s been a lot of hard work, harder hours, and working to properly balance the ‘party hard’ end of that equation. I struggled with my identity as a college graduate working in underemployment. Never thought I would identify with something as dorky as Luke Skywalker, but I was definitely feeling his level of angst at my current state.

After two months of that, I received a call from my former Middle East policy internship. They needed a new, part-time coordinator during the week, and wanted me. Oh, happy day! So now I’m working at the office during the day, fending off pushy calls from diplomats and journalists, and nights and the bar, indulging my smartass social side. It’s a fair balance. There are even ewoks. [In the form of cute, nerdy hipsters; working our Trivia Night every week has been fun.] I’m still mid-movie and have yet to do final battle with Darth Job-Market to triumph for a full-time, stable, field-appropriate job…. But I’m definitely enjoying the plot for right now.

And, folks… there are even some dating shenanigans afoot. I happen to be a bit sweet on a certain cute nerd from one of my bar’s regular trivia teams, and just might do something about it. He’s no Han Solo, but his dimples and stellar trivia scores make up for it. And to throw family back into the mix, Jules Junior is coming to visit this weekend… I’m sure THAT will stir up enough trouble for our next chapter….

Signing off to return to top secret Dating-Jedi business [until I tell you about it next time],

-Jules

p.s. I would like to conclude that this has, without a doubt, been the dweebiest thing I’ve ever written– but hey, since I wrote it, it’s now geek chic. And if you’ve read this far, it looks like I’m in good company.

Just Some Bunny

When our sister told us the joke, my older brother and I proceeded to wander around DC an entire day singing it to each other. That’s how we do in Family Jules.

One day, I received a text from my sister saying, “My friend’s pet rabbit ran away!!!”

Naturally, I empathetically responded, “Oh no! They need help looking for it?”

“Nope. Now it’s just some bunny that I used to know.”

DAH-DUN-CSHHH!

So in case you were wondering, these are the types of shenanigans White House Interns get up to during the day– texting siblings ridiculous jokes and emailing each other songs on their closed network. Yes, folks. Now that she’s finished her program, I can out Jules Junior and her bestie Abigail as having been overworked and unpaid grunts down at the President’s house. [They of course loved it and can’t wait to come back.]

Between starting at a new restaurant [anyone like low country BBQ?], knuckling down with the real-job search, miraculously scraping together rent, and sending my sister back to the motherland after the end of her Capital Tour…. it’s been a long two months. I tried writing several times, honest! But, I apologize; either I passed out from sheer exhaustion or simply haven’t had it in me to update. Much has changed, so it’s been a contemplative time.

August is a great time of Exodus in DC. Mini-Me and her fellow W.H.interns returned to their universities, more clueless munchkins replace them, and Congress reconvened [after each side finished their respective Convention circuses]. My teacher-friends are now cracking the whip on a new batch of deviants, and those still learning things went back to classes.

On a more personal note, one of my best friends here left to join her husband in a far-away South American land. Otoño has been my rock since moving to DC, helping me to carve out a solid home out of this transient place, and always my natural go-to comfort for professional and romantic woes. I have been utterly desolate without her– consolation via brownies would be welcome.

September was about getting my shit together. I’ve no problem admitting I was hurting a bit. My sister’s gone, my best friend moved, and I was coming off a romantic roller-coaster that jerked me around a bit too much [hereafter known as the Mistake]. It was a hectic time, and I threw myself into overtime at the restaurant. [Added bonus: more-than-rent income!] In my book, the best way to re-motivate socially is to focus in on awesome friends and fun activities. So I explored several major DC-centric events [details to come].

But my greatest revelation: I am no longer interested in transition. No more of this “just for now” nonsense. Gone are the times of only seeing friends in some speaker-blasting club or over-crowded bar. I’m tired of never seeing guys for more than a month. Window shoppers can keep it moving, and the pro temps can apply for interim work elsewhere. I am looking to take root. Find a job to settle into and individuals to share in the experience.

So, with that in mind, I would like to say goodbye to all those bunnies that I used to know… and hello to the future that matters. It’s time to arrive.

Grow a Pair

It’s all fine and dandy for advice columnists to write about “putting yourself out there” romantically, or “staying positive” on the job hunt. That’d be just peachy, if I had picked up your article to save on a psychiatric bill– but I’m not here for my mental health, I’m here to figure how to get results. I don’t need your feel-good platitudes, I need a damn job.

What I realize more and more each day is that, for most people in this world, you only get what you want if you barrel into an obstacle with the bull-headed determination to refuse anything other than success. [Trust fund babies can politely bite me.] You might smash half the china shop, but at least it’s progress– right? You sure as hell won’t get anywhere sitting on your ass, unless you’re looking for obesity and a cardiac trip to the ER. So walk up to the cute person at the party, introduce yourself, and show some damn initiative.

College: one educational step forward, two financial steps backwards, and a professional step upside-down.

Clearly, I’m in a feisty mood this week. [Or maybe it’s just frustration? I’ll go with both; they tend to go hand-in-hand with me.] My restaurant is closed for the next few months for renovations, and I’m left not only looking for a real job, but without the measly paycheck I’ve subsisted on the past year to support my fanatic career hunt. This is a terrifying time, folks. I have a three-digit bank balance and bills due in two weeks. My conclusion: I need to up my game, pronto. Evidently, the 100+ applications I send out a week aren’t cutting it, and the two staffing agencies I’m a candidate for haven’t helped. At most, they get my hopes up for a day or two a week, only to promptly smash them with a “the client chose someone with more relevant experience”. Which, to me, only says: “Hey, Jules, another employer thinks you’re irrelevant!” Well, fuck you kindly, too. I didn’t want to process your advertising information anyway.

Drastic times call for drastic measures. A friend told me that one of his buddies got a job last year by walking her resume straight in to HR. The ad only specified no calls. So I’m compiling a list today of places to drop in for mild harassment next week! Hey, it’ll be lovely: “You asked for no calls, but said nothing about walk-ins, so I thought I would hand it in personally and say hello.” That’s charming, right? Right??

The moment I realize I like someone:
when I get these bad enough to blush.

Which bring me to this week’s problème d’amour: if I need to up my game professionally, a large majority of this city needs to step up personally. Washington needs to take its professional motivation and translate it into social life. Grow a pair, initiate, and follow through. Why doesn’t anyone walk up to the guy/ girl they’re into and say, “Hi, I think your cute/ interesting/ cooler than dinosaurs, want to go out/ dance/ jump in a fountain with me sometime?” Because honestly, those sort of straightforward shenanigans are just about all that I want. Chalk it up to being a budding adrenaline junkie. Nothing makes me smile like those butterfly whirlwinds that speed out of your stomach and overwhelm the whole body. What can I say? That’s what I want. To feel like crazed little butterflies are electrocuting my nervous system.

But hell, it seems like no one does it anymore– walk right up to someone pretty and say hello. So, to chase down the possibility of this idea, I went to the Offline Society’s inaugural event for DC singles last week, and was blown away. It was a remarkable collection of incredibly attractive, active, and interesting individuals. The ladies of the Society put together a superior event of classy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and first-rate characters. I saw some sparks fly, and later recognized several connections made at the party continuing their night together at Wonderland Bar. Success? I think so. Common for DC? I think not. What made the event– and concept as a whole– so wonderful is the sad rarity of such behavior. Men and women were walking right up to each other to introduce themselves and take a leap. The Offline ladies did a fantastic job of getting everyone pumped up for putting themselves out there, and there was constant evidence of their skill in each stranger’s approach. But how is this sad?

LIES. Real men grow a pair and do it, Boromir.
No wonder Tolkien killed you off.

Because it just doesn’t happen like that often. Sure, guys approach hot girls at the bar, maybe to offer a drink, though more often than not it’s just a solicitation to rub bodies on the dance floor. And of course, at house parties, new people meet and talk. But while clubs are meant for the carnal alcohol, parties are more platonic social. We go to parties with either someone [or two] in mind for the end-goal, or for a night out with a crew of friends. Even if you meet someone new and interesting, you’re out with a group and it’s a bit difficult– or sometimes embarrassing– to throw out some game with friends looking on. So we pull back and act more reserved under the limelight. [Yes, even me. For the most part, I’ve no problem with it, but we all have shy days!]

Once you get past that first hello, first date, or even first kiss, people around here still seem to have a problem with courage. I know the whole world isn’t keen on actual communication, especially when it involves emotion– but grow up. I’m very clear with what I want out of life, relationships, and even simple hook-ups. So figure out what you want [even if it’s that you don’t know], and be up-front about it. At the very least, it’ll earn you less social confusion. I was talking with a friend recently, and he agrees. If he likes someone, he asks her out and he doesn’t waffle over the details. It’s a question of “this-day-this-time-this-place, you in?” Cole’s definitely on to something there, because it shows both initiative and follow through. It’s honest, assertive, and endearing; what could be better?

Right now, I want something real. I want to have an affair of uninhibited passion, where it’s no one’s damn business what’s going on but our own. I want to stop wanting to do something, and having to tell myself ‘no’ because it’ll come off as too intense. We’re all comfortable with publicly showing our driven ambition here in DC, so why not allow that same freedom in our dating world? I’m tired of restraining myself for fear of scaring a guy into thinking I want to settle down and be exclusive. That’s not on my mind right now. I just want the freedom to feel what I’m feeling, and that involves a heaping dose of passion. I want the freedom to be me.

Next to any definition of ‘classy as fuck’, notice her lovely portrait.

When someone kisses me and tells me they’re interested, after I tell them when I want, this is what I DON’T expect to happen: not hearing from them again until the next time we’re out with mutual friends. It happens to the best of us—and we all know the best includes me! Apparently I need to make myself even clearer: I don’t play those games, so don’t fuck with me. Each time something like this happens, Sally and I discuss the many ways that people suck over a bottle of wine [it’s wonderfully cliché, you should try it]. What constantly happens is her exasperated, “What is wrong with men?”, and my immediate, “These aren’t men—they’re boys.” When this weak or wishy-washy behavior happens, you’re clearly dealing with a Peter Pan of some sort who needs to grow a pair. So move on, Wendy, and find a man who knows what he wants, or at least wants to figure it out.

So if I tell this to someone I’ve sparked with, and he says he wants it, that communicates a green light to me. Because when other people talk, I actually listen. If you tell me something, I’m going to take you at your word. Being genuine might come naturally, but honesty takes some serious backbone. Saying what you mean isn’t always easy, or comfortable, or expedient. This isn’t naïveté, it’s a solid expectation. An expectation that you aren’t a liar with your fingers crossed behind your back, or a wimp that will later bitch out on the follow-through.  I don’t use my words just because they feel right in that moment, or because it’ll get me what I want for the night– I speak because it’s true.

expect better from the people I spend my time with. It isn’t a standard I will ever lower; it’s a deal-breaker. It might come off as the cause of many-a-sticky-situation, but really it’s very straightforward. Say what you mean, mean what you say– or get the hell out of my way. It’s that simple. Whether it’s balls or ovaries, we all need to man- and woman-up and grow a pair.

I have the audacity to go for what I want. Do you?

And because the lyrics crack me up so perfectly, I have to include your Ke$ha dose for the month. It’s true– when you grow a pair, you can call me back.

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